Nothing jolts an active body like a buckling knee, shooting back pain, or sudden hamstring sprain during your daily routine. Getting injured can be frustrating whether you’re a professional athlete or live an active lifestyle. However, getting hurt isn’t the most frustrating part for most people—it’s the long, agonizing recovery time.
A workout or sports injury can take a few weeks to even months to heal. It depends on various factors, including how severe it is and how compliant you are with your treatment.
You can easily find someone to help with your treatment by searching online. For instance, by simply Googling ‘find NYC chiropractors near me,’ you’ll get a list of qualified chiropractic clinics and practitioners in your area.
Although there’s no definitive answer on how long it takes to bounce back after an injury, you can do these five things to help put your body on the right track toward a faster recovery.
- Seek Medical Attention Right Away
The fastest way to help you recover from a sports or workout injury is to seek medical attention as soon as it occurs. The sooner you address the problem, the sooner it will go away. So, once you injure yourself, regardless of how minor, don’t stall the recovery process by skipping the hospital.
Not only does it ensure that you get the proper treatment right away, but it also allows your doctor to check for other potential issues. If you try to sleep off an injury, it may only get worse and cause more severe problems in the long term. And the more serious your injuries are, the longer the recovery process will be.
- Get Physical Therapy
Depending on the type and severity of your injury, your doctor may recommend that you get physical therapy. Doing so can help you bounce back from injury faster.
You’ll have to wait a few weeks to rest and heal the injured area for more severe injuries. Nevertheless, physical therapy can help manage pain for less serious injuries while improving your flexibility.
In general, you can get several types of physical therapy—from chiropractic care to massage sessions to electrical stimulations. Your doctor should refer you to a rehabilitation center, but you can also find a service provider by searching online. It’s best to find an injury rehabilitation center to get access to more treatments to enhance your recovery.
A physical therapist can create a customized treatment program based on your individual needs. They can help reduce pain while keeping your body active and flexible. Plus, an expert physical therapist can help prevent further complications, helping you bounce back as soon as possible.
- Do Recovery Strategies At Home
Maybe you can’t afford to go to a rehabilitation center, or your doctor says it isn’t necessary, especially if you have a minor injury. You can do the following at home to help speed up your recovery while staying active:
- Use Cold And Hot Therapy
Every person with an active lifestyle knows that one of the most effective ways to treat common injuries, such as a sprained ankle or a bad knee, is with heat and ice. Doctors recommend heat and cold therapy to help alleviate pain and stimulate healing.
When you apply cold packs to the injured area, your blood vessels contract, reducing circulation. This alleviates inflammation and minimizes tissue damage and swelling. What’s more, cold therapy can help numb sore tissues, which slows down pain signals transmitted to your brain.
Once you remove the cold and apply heat, your blood vessels expand, which improves circulation. As a result, sore and tight muscles can relax, reducing pain. In addition, the incoming flow of blood brings nutrients that can help heal injured tissues faster.
You can use a bottle with cold water or a cooled pad in the freezer for cold therapy. To do heat therapy, you can use a hot water bottle, microwave-heated pads, or take a warm bath. Never apply a heating or cooling pad directly on your skin for extended periods. Take note that while you can use both therapies alone, you can get better results when used alternately.
- Do Light Exercises
Getting injured doesn’t mean you have to be bedridden for weeks. You want to get your body moving, provided that you get your doctor’s approval. You can try to stretch, do some light exercise, or practice basic yoga to keep your body conditioned and flexible. Stretching the muscles on the injured area also helps increase blood flow, which speeds up healing.
If you plan to do some workouts, focus more on movements that improve your range of motion while increasing your strength. You should also consult a physical therapist or ask your doctor for recommended workouts to help strengthen and heal the injured part without adding more pain or causing further damage.
- Immobilize And Elevate The Injured Area
If you have a more severe injury, you must stop using the affected area for a while. Immobilizing the injured part can prevent the slightest movement that can worsen the pain or cause more complications.
Your doctor should help immobilize the injured body part with braces. You only need to wear it during the day, when you’re most active, to protect it against impacts. At night, supportive braces can help hold the area in a safer position as you sleep.
Aside from immobilizing the affected part, you should also elevate the injured area above or at the same level as your heart. This reduces swelling by letting the fluid drain away from the affected area.
- Focus On Your Physical Body And Health
Taking care of your overall body is a must if you want to bounce back faster after a sports or workout injury. Here are some things you should do:
- Take Enough Rest
After an injury, the body works hard to repair and heal the area. By getting enough rest, you can help your body with the repair and healing process. Instead of wasting energy, taking enough rest allows you to use most of your energy toward healing your injury.
Plus, the body can actively increase blood flow to muscles and tissue when you sleep, promoting repair and growth. Moreover, it helps reduce your stress hormone, alleviating internal inflammation while improving your overall mood and energy levels.
- Eat Healthily
Eating nutritious food is essential to a healthy body but is even more critical when recovering from an injury. Eating a well-balanced meal can give the body the vital nutrients to promote faster healing.
You should include specific types of food in your diet when recovering from an injury. For instance, leafy green vegetables and food rich in fatty acids can help reduce inflammation. Protein-rich foods such as beef and chicken can help promote muscle building. Meanwhile, calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese, and almonds can promote faster repair of bone injuries.
- Hydrate Frequently
Most physically active people and athletes know how important hydration is. However, it’s easy to forget to hydrate as much when an injury throws off your routine. As with healthy eating, hydrating is even more crucial when healing from an injury.
Even though you’re not sweating as you usually do while playing your sport, your body is still working hard to replace and repair damaged tissue. And this process uses a lot of water. You need to drink more water to keep up with the natural healing process.
- Do Not Forget Your Mental Health
This is a big one, yet it’s not often discussed. A sports or exercise injury takes a toll on your physical body, and it can affect your mental health.
It’s common for competitive athletes or those with an active lifestyle who experience an injury to have an emotional response to the situation. Typical emotional reactions include depression, anger, irritability, disengagement, lack of motivation, and frustration.
In particular, more severe injuries can have life-changing implications—from long-term injuries such as anterior cruciate ligament tears to career-ending ones such as head trauma. If you’re having an intense emotional response to injury, you should consider seeking treatment for something other than your physical injury.
Aside from a sports coach or gym trainer, having a guide or therapist can be a helpful motivator. Most professional sports teams keep sports psychologists in their network to help deal with mental health issues.
If you don’t want to consult a professional, another way to take care of your mental health is to surround yourself with people who support you. According to a study, people who don’t have a solid social network are more likely to experience depression and chronic pain 6–12 months after an injury.
In addition, it’s essential to be mindful of your thoughts and mental health. Even if you can’t play your favorite sport or go to the gym for a few weeks or months, you need to stay focused on the present. Regardless of how you heal, it won’t happen tomorrow. It occurs in the present, one moment at a time.
For those with an active lifestyle or who participate in sports, nothing can be more frustrating than getting an injury. The long waiting game to get back in your game or bounce back to your usual routine can take its toll, and you may soon feel the itch to work out or play again.
Patience is key to full recovery. That and following the tips mentioned above should help you return to your usual routine faster.